These past few days I spent a bit of time discussing maize production conditions in the Southern and Eastern African regions, but there are other important developments that are worth keeping an eye on here in South Africa. The 2019/20 winter crop season is underway across the country and has advanced in the Western Cape, where plantings started at the end of April, while the rest of the country only began with planting in June.

This means, from now until the end of the year, the weather will be an important factor to monitor across the winter crop growing provinces, specifically the Western Cape. I tend to place a lot of emphasis on this particular province because it is a leading producer of all winter crops.

While there were concerns about dryness at the start of the season, conditions have since improved in most parts of the Western Cape. This means that the crops — wheat, barley and canola — are in a fairly good condition. Moreover, this past weekend (June 30) brought good showers in parts of the Western Cape, which is beneficial to winter crops.

I am, however, concerned about the long-term weather prospects. On 28 June 2019, the South African Weather Service indicated that “there is still no clear indication on rainfall expectations for the winter rainfall areas during late-winter (July-August-September).” This will still be a growing period for the crop, and thus, potential dryness could affect the yields.

This piece of news mainly affects the Western Cape because other winter crop-producing regions of the country are mainly under irrigation. Therefore, those crops should experience a generally good season as dams across the country are at healthy levels, measured at over 55% full in the week of 01 July 2019.

Overall, while long-term weather prospects are concerning, the near-term development reinforces our view at the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA (Agbiz) that farmers might be able to achieve the intended area of 513 450 hectares of wheat, 118 500 hectares of barley, and 80 000 hectares of canola across South Africa.

The only key concern is yield potential which will be influenced by the weather. Therefore, this highlights the importance of monitoring the weather conditions over the coming months in order to get a sense of how much wheat, barley and canola South Africa could potentially harvest in 2019/20 season.


Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za

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